User Centered Design

I want to engage users frequently throughout the design process to make it better by their valuable insights.

In studying the customer, I have some particular goals. Of course the first customer is myself, but eventually other people may use what I create too.

  • Avoid speculating about customers
  • Focus on customer satisfaction
  • Weigh customer feedback in comparing design decisions
  • Improve usability
  • Improve training
  • Understand what people are saying (attitudes)
  • Understand what people are doing (behaviors)
  • Understand why to fix and how to fix (qualities)
  • Understand how many and how much (quantities)

When studying the user in context of my product, I want to consider scope, schedule and resources. Products I may study with the customer include

  • Mock up of a future GUI
  • Documentation
  • Simulated CLI
  • Functioning prototype

When a user study is moderated, I want to develop research questions beforehand and keep them in focus. I want a skilled moderator who understands the research requirements to lead the session. As much as possible, I want unbiased users and moderators injected in the study, but do want the "biased" team members to participate or observe to learn firsthand. I want to pilot the study itself, and also want daily debriefs.

User Study Best Practices

For maximum impact, I try to follow these best practices.

Before the study:

  • I confirm the user fits the target market.
  • I confirm the user expects and agrees to the plan.
  • I confirm the research targets as a team.
  • I have curiosity and a neutral point of view. I don't try to prove a point.

During the study:

  • I capture everything and ensure the user's are comfortable with the means of capture.
  • I look for clues everywhere, and where improvisation is used.
  • I set a professional tone in my dress and demeanor. I state specifically how they can help and influence by their participation.
  • I am not judgmental. I am empathetic and friendly.
  • I focus on behavior, asking about specific events. I don't inject generalizing questions about features, that would invoke attitudes and speculating about future behavior.
  • I ask why frequently and repeatedly to encourage elaboration.
  • I don't get in the way of the user experience.
  • I am bold but friendly in asking questions.
  • I treat people equally.
  • I set a foundation for a continuing relationship such as a date for follow up.

After the study:

  • I communicate quickly and share videos or pictures to build excitement about the event and anticipation of future formal findings.
  • I communicate repeatedly to preserve the impact of the study.
  • I say thank you in writing with official letterhead.